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March 23, 2020
2020 UCGIS Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award for UIUC’s Sara McLafferty

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science is pleased to announce that Dr. Sara McLafferty, Professor in the Department of Geography and GIScience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), has been selected for the 2020 Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award. Dr. McLafferty has served as both the Department Head and Associate Head during her 20-year tenure at UIUC, as well as Professor and Department Chairperson at her prior institution, Hunter College. A geographer by training, she applies GIScience approaches and concepts to the field of environmental and public health, along with other topics in the social sciences, through her use of GIS tools, spatial analysis, and computer models. In all of these areas, her students and peers reference her dedication to collaborative work and her promotion of their own scholarship. The positive reactions to her mentoring style and practices span her career as well as those of her peers and students, at all levels. She has been commended for her patience, her compassion, and her dedication to students from diverse backgrounds and minorities.

“She made me feel completely comfortable when communicating her critique to me as she is so modest, personable and respectful. Based on my observations, she is always passionate about mentoring and firmly committed to empowering others to pursue their research and education goals.”

“She always makes students feel welcome, respects their interests and helps them work toward their goals. She encourages them to think critically and creatively instead of following any conventional models. She interacts with them with depth and a style of rigor and clear explanation.”

“Another impressive aspect of Sara’s mentoring is that she continues to provide guidance and support to her advisees even long after they graduate. For example, Sara is still supporting the career development of an undergraduate student who graduated in 2007 from the department at UIUC.”

“Every time I reflect on the mentoring relationship that I have with Dr. McLafferty, I think about how it has been a great privilege for me to have her as my mentor and advocate. I hope I can be half as good a mentor as Dr. McLafferty.”

UCGIS will honor Sara McLafferty and other award recipients during its Symposium programming activities in summer 2020.

The Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award was established by UCGIS in 2015 to recognize an individual who demonstrates exceptional mentoring abilities and practices. Professor Carolyn Merry embodied the spirit of a mentor by sharing her wisdom and experience with colleagues, particularly junior scholars, as a scientist, educator, and academic leader. Professor emerita of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering at The Ohio State University, Dr. Merry was known for her scholarship and leadership in remote sensing and geographic information science. The goal of the Carolyn Merry Mentoring Award is to recognize the commitment she demonstrated to mentoring and the investment of others who share this philosophy.

UCGIS is a non-profit scientific and educational organization comprised of 60+ member and affiliate institutions. It was established in 1995 for the purposes of advancing research in the field of Geographic Information Science, expanding and strengthening multidisciplinary Geographic Information Science education, and advocating policies for the promotion of the ethical use of and access to geographic information and technologies, by building and supporting scholarly communities and networks. UCGIS is a hub for the GIS research and education community in higher education and serves as a national and international voice to advocate for its members’ interests.

For further information, visit www.ucgis.org or contact Diana Sinton, Executive Director (dianasinton@ucgis.org).

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